If you have ever served as an executor of an estate, you know how hard it is to find and distribute all the assets. If the deceased was advanced in years, things can be increasingly difficult. Investments made forty years ago may be hard to track down. It may be difficult to find the original life insurance policies. Even if the individual had a will, there are challenges.
Since 2011, the Illinois State Treasurer has identified more than $550 million in unclaimed life insurance proceeds that should have been paid to beneficiaries in Illinois. Since no claims were made, the life insurance companies kept the money.
On August 26, 2016, Governor Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 4633 into law. The legislation created the Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act. It requires insurers to run an initial, and then semi-annual check against the Death Master File (DMF) to determine if a policy holder has died and the death benefits have not been paid. The Social Security Administration maintains this list to be sure recipients are alive and to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in Social Security programs.
In addition, the Illinois Department of Insurance has launched a new program, the Life Policy Locator Service, to help executors, legal representatives, and family members find a life insurance policy or annuity contract left by a deceased individual. After necessary information is submitted, the Illinois Department of Insurance will contact all state-licensed life insurance companies asking them to search their records for any life insurance policies or annuity contracts insuring the decedent. If a policy is found, that insurance company will contact the beneficiary to complete the claim.
To find out more about the free Life Policy Locator Service, go to the Illinois Department of Insurance website at www.insurance.illinois.gov.
HB 4633 will be effective January 1, 2017.
— by Karen Centowski